The Senate’s Christmas Gift
December 21, 2009 by Bob Livingston
Senate Democrats are working overtime to get an Obamacare bill passed before Christmas. They no longer even pretend to be doing it to reform healthcare. Now they’re just doing whatever it takes to get a bill passed, even if it costs somewhere between $848 billion and $2.1 trillion, depending on which math you use.
Never mind that the Realclearpolitics.com average of polls shows that Americans oppose the Democrat’s healthcare bill by a 54.2 percent to 39.7 percent margin. Democrats have gone all in, as the saying goes, and nothing is going to stop them.
As an unnamed Democratic strategist told Byron York of The Washington Examiner, “Once you’ve gone this far, what is the cost of failure?”
Comparing Democrats to bank robbers—how appropriate—who have gone past the point of no return, the strategist said, “They’re in the bank, they’ve got their guns out. They can run outside with no money, or they can stick it out, go through the gunfight, and get away with the money.”
Of course, money is what it’s all about. Not saving it mind you, but stealing yours.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) told The Hill that Democrats will have the 60 votes needed to pass a bill this week. They’re buying off reluctant Democrats left and right.
For Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu the price was $300 million in federal aid to her state. As columnist Charles Krauthammer said on Fox News, if Landrieu got $300 million, Sen. Ben Nelson (D.-Neb.)—said to be holding out for removal of a provision in the bill that allows federal funding to pay for abortions—gets a Caribbean island, or two. Or, if some news reports are correct, a threat to close a military base in his state if he doesn’t join in.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I.-Conn.) is back on board. We don’t yet know what he got in return, aside from a lot of face time on television. In an effort to get one or more Republicans to sign on so the bill can be cast as bi-partisan, Maine Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe are being courted as well. Look for Maine to get a bundle of cash for snow plows or something.
Meanwhile, Joe and Jane Citizen only get dunned. If you are a family with an annual income above $88,200 and your employer doesn’t provide coverage, prepare to fork out $15,200 a year for a federally-mandated insurance fee, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as reported by CNSNews.com. And few employers are going to provide coverage for their employees once the plan kicks in.
Why? There is an incentive not to. If employers don’t pay their share of their employees’ premiums they’ll have to pay $750 per employee fine. That’s much less than the employer contribution on a complete health plan.
What’s more, there are tax increases in the bill. Lots of them. According to the Heritage Foundation, Medicare taxes increase from 2.9 percent to 3.4 percent, the top marginal tax rate goes from 35 percent to 39.6 percent and, in the House version of the bill, a surtax of 5.4 percent is put on incomes above $500,000.
Following is a list from the Heritage Foundation of other tax increases currently in either the House or Senate bill or proposed by the Barack Obama administration to “pay” for healthcare reform:
- An excise tax on high-cost "Cadillac" health insurance plans that cost more than $8,500 a year for individuals or $23,000 for families.
- An excise tax on medical devices such as wheelchairs, breast pumps and syringes used by diabetics for insulin injections.
- A cap on the exclusion of employer-provided health insurance without offsetting tax cuts.
- A limit on itemized deductions for taxpayers with a top income tax rate greater than 28 percent.
- A windfall profits tax on health insurance companies.
- A value-added tax, which would tax the value added to a product at each stage of production.
- An excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages including non-diet soda and sports drinks.
- Higher taxes on alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits.
- A limit on contributions to health savings accounts.
- An 8 percent tax on all wages paid by employers that do not provide their employees health insurance that satisfies the requirements defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
- A limit on contributions to flexible spending arrangements.
- Elimination of the deduction for expenses associated with Medicare Part D subsidies.
- An increase in taxes on international businesses.
- Elimination of the tax credits paper companies take for biofuels they create in their production process—the so-called “Black Liquor credit.”
- Fees on insured and self-insured health plans.
- A limit or repeal of the itemized deduction for medical expenses.
- A limit on the Qualified Medical Expense definition.
- An increase in the payroll taxes on students.
- An extension of the Medicare payroll tax to all state and local government employees.
- An increase in taxes on hospitals.
- An increase in the estate tax.
- Increased efforts to close the mythical “tax gap.”
- A 5 percent tax on cosmetic surgery and similar procedures such as Botox treatments, tummy tucks and face lifts.
- A tax on drug companies.
- An increase in the corporate tax on providers of health insurance.
- A $500,000 deduction limitation for the compensation paid by health insurance companies to their officers, employees and directors.
And the kicker is the taxes go into effect immediately after Obama signs the bill. The healthcare benefits don’t start until 2014.
All the taxes are designed to confiscate the wealth of Mr. and Mrs. Citizen and drive them into a public option—even as Senate Democrats say the bill doesn’t include one, yet.
On Dec. 16 the president went on television and said if Congress doesn’t pass a healthcare bill the Federal government will go bankrupt. Poppycock. If a healthcare bill is passed it’s Mr. and Mrs. Citizen that go belly up.
The spend-and-tax policies of Obama and the Democrats—stimulus bills, TARP bill, healthcare bill, etc.—are what is pushing us toward economic collapse.
Face it. The healthcare reform plan Democrats are ramming through is nothing more than the greatest transfer of wealth and most massive power grab in the history of the world.
Frankly, I don’t consider that much of a Christmas present.